This game was supposed to be an epic showdown between two top 10 teams battling to stay undefeated. That was before all hell broke loose in the college football world last weekend. Now, No. 12 Oregon and No. 18 UCLA will square off in a game that has all sorts of new implications. One team will begin the process of steering their ship back towards the direction of the College Football Playoff, while the other will kiss their chances at the playoff goodbye. Cue Al Pacino and his Any Given Sunday (or I guess in this case, Saturday) speech.
The Bruins' offense has plenty of weapons on offense to give the Ducks headaches on Saturday. So let's take a look at who those weapons are.
Leading the Bruins is redshirt junior Brett Hundley, whose name was thrown around for the Heisman during the preseason. This season, Hundley leads the nation in completion percentage (72.8, fifth in pass efficiency (181.4) and fourth in yards per pass (10.48) while throwing for 1,310 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. Last week against Utah, Hundley completed 16-of-21 attempts for 269 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. However, much like Mariota, Hundley has had troubles in the pocket as he's been sacked 21 times through five games. Last week against Utah, Hundley was sacked 10 times. And you thought Mariota took a beating against Washington State. If Oregon can pressure Hundley in the pocket, it'll go a long way towards getting a rebound win.
UCLA's rushing attack is led by sophomore Paul Perkins, who has 540 yards on 94 carries (5.7 ypc) and three touchdowns. Perkins fell just one yard shy of his third straight 100-yard rushing game last week against Utah. The week prior, Perkins ran for a season-high 137 yards on 14 carries against Arizona State. However, 81 of those yards came on one carry.
Also in the backfield is redshirt senior Jordan James, who has rushed for 139 yards on 24 carries over his last three games. Last season, James had a promising start to the season with three straight 100-yard rushing games before missing five games due to injury.
Leading UCLA's receiving corps is junior Jordan Payton. This year, Payton has 31 catches for 491 yards and three touchdowns. Payton's best game of the year so far came against Arizona State, catching five passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
Thomas Duarte ranks second on the team in receiving yards with 265 yards on 13 catches and two touchdowns. Both of those touchdowns came against Memphis last month when Duarte caught four catches for 110 yards.
Junior Devin Fuller will also be in the mix for the Bruins. Last week against Utah, Fuller caught a pass and took off for a 93-yard touchdown, the second-longest pass play in UCLA history. This year, Fuller has 21 catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
Who to Watch For
Brett Hundley will need to piece together the best game of his career if he hopes to hand Oregon their second straight loss, something that hasn't happened since 2007. In order to do that, his offensive line will need to do a better job at protecting him. Utah was able to beat UCLA's offensive line all night last week, and if Oregon can do the same and get to Hundley, it could be the x-factor in a do-or-die game for both sides.